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Papers of the Week

2021 May 04

Eur J Med Chem


Development of tricyclic N-benzyl-4-hydroxybutanamide derivatives as inhibitors of GABA transporters mGAT1-4 with anticonvulsant, antinociceptive, and antidepressant activity.


Zaręba P, Sałat K, Höfner GC, Łątka K, Bajda M, Latacz G, Kotniewicz K, Rapacz A, Podkowa A, Maj M, Jóźwiak K, Filipek B, Wanner KT, Malawska B, Kulig K
Eur J Med Chem. 2021 May 04; 221:113512.
PMID: 34015586.


γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission has a significant impact on the proper functioning of the central nervous system. Numerous studies have indicated that inhibitors of the GABA transporters mGAT1-4 offer a promising strategy for the treatment of several neurological disorders, including epilepsy, neuropathic pain, and depression. Following our previous results, herein, we report the synthesis, biological evaluation, and structure-activity relationship studies supported by molecular docking and molecular dynamics of a new series of N-benzyl-4-hydroxybutanamide derivatives regarding their inhibitory potency toward mGAT1-4. This study allowed us to identify compound 23a (N-benzyl-4-hydroxybutanamide bearing a dibenzocycloheptatriene moiety), a nonselective GAT inhibitor with a slight preference toward mGAT4 (pIC = 5.02 ± 0.11), and compound 24e (4-hydroxy-N-[(4-methylphenyl)-methyl]butanamide bearing a dibenzocycloheptadiene moiety) with relatively high inhibitory activity toward mGAT2 (pIC = 5.34 ± 0.09). In a set of in vivo experiments, compound 24e successively showed predominant anticonvulsant activity and antinociception in the formalin model of tonic pain. In contrast, compound 23a showed significant antidepressant-like properties in mice. These results were consistent with the available literature data, which indicates that, apart from seizure control, GABAergic neurotransmission is also involved in the pathophysiology of several psychiatric diseases, however alternative mechanisms underlying this action cannot be excluded. Finally, it is worth noting that the selected compounds showed unimpaired locomotor skills that have been indicated to give reliable results in behavioral assays.